There are a lot of categories of savings to keep track of as you improve your financial stability.
You need to have three to six months of living expenses in your emergency fund. You also need to make saving for retirement a priority. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to set aside money for a down payment on a house, college expenses, or caring for elderly parents.
For many people, getting started is the hardest part of saving. If you're not sure where to start saving, or if you're having trouble setting money aside, you can start to build a saving habit with the 52-Week Savings Challenge.
This is a method that promises you nearly $1,400 saved at the end of the year by putting away just dollars a week.
Principles of the 52-Week Savings Challenge
The basic principles of the 52-Week Challenge are simple.
You start by saving just $1 the first week of the challenge. The next week, put away $2, and the next, $3.
Continue increasing your savings by $1 every week. By the end of the challenge, you are saving more than $50 a week, bringing your total amount saved to just under $1,400 by the end of the year.
By starting small and creating a weekly habit, the 52-Week Savings Challenge can help you build a habit that doesn't feel too overwhelming while ending up with a significant amount of savings at the end of the year.
Benefits of the 52-Week Savings Challenge
There are several small strategies built into the 52-Week Challenge that work together to make saving money easier.
- Start small: It feels a lot more manageable to find $1 to save for a week than to say you'll save $100 for the month. If you feel daunted by the prospect of saving, the challenge helps you build toward larger amounts by starting small.
- Build momentum: As you work toward a financial goal, you gain momentum and see more results each week. This can encourage you to keep saving and help you build a long-term habit.
- Save as you go: To reach the same savings goal, you’d have to save roughly $114 per month. Setting aside a few bucks a week is often more doable than finding $100 at the end of the month after you've paid all your bills.
- Stay flexible: If you are struggling to save, it may be because you have other pressing financial obligations, like paying off debt. Because you're only setting aside a small amount per week, the 52-Week Challenge keeps your money flexible, rather than tying up hundreds or thousands of dollars all at once.
- Make it a game: Participating in a challenge, especially if you are doing it with a friend or group, can help make saving more fun. Rather than a difficult thing you have to do, it becomes a game that you want to win.
Anyone can use these strategies to save money, even without the 52-Week Challenge. But the benefit of the challenge is that it builds them in, making saving more accessible and manageable from the beginning.
Difficulties of the 52-Week Savings Challenge
It’s fairly easy for anyone to set aside just $1 a week, especially with a visual reminder such as a jar full of money sitting on your countertop. However, as the challenge progresses, you may encounter difficulties.
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to overcome these challenges and make it to the end of the 52 weeks with your full savings in the bank.
Making It to the End
Toward the end of the year is when it gets tricky. Socking away $50 per week in December may be tough, especially when you consider holiday spending, like gifts, travel, office gift exchanges, and holiday meals.
If you're starting at the beginning of the year, consider taking the challenge in reverse: putting away $52 in week one, $51 in week two, and increasing the amount weekly. That way, you’ll end up just needing to save a few bucks a week during the expensive holiday months.
Remembering to Set Aside Money Each Week
Additionally, since $1 a week, $2 a week, or $3 a week is such a nominal amount, it can be difficult to remember to set aside that money each week with everything else you have going on.
Create a visual reminder or a regular calendar appointment to help you remember. You can also do the challenge with a friend, to hold each other accountable.
Being Strict With Self-Control
Exercising self-control can be a struggle, especially if you are doing the challenge in cash or an easily accessible checking account. When you find yourself needing small amounts of money, it may be tempting to remove just a few dollars from your savings.
If you are putting money in a checking account, get rid of the debit card to make it harder to spend. You can also put the money in an interest-earning savings account; knowing that it is earning money just by sitting there may make it less tempting to spend.
When it comes to saving, lots of people struggle with both getting started and sticking to a plan. Others aren't sure how to set aside savings while still managing the rest of their financial obligations.
If you need to do any of the following, the 52-Week Savings Challenge can provide a clear path to get started:
- Jumpstart your savings
- Start building an emergency fund
- Make saving one of your financial habits